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Learning About Life in Difficult Moments: A Conversation with Victoria Arlen

Published On
Oct 6, 2020

Victoria Arlen is a world-renowned speaker, ESPN on-air personality, Paralympics Gold Medalist, actor, model and author. In her life, Arlen has faced the challenges of not one, but two rare neurological disorders, but has found ways to thrive, turning these challenges into an unending source of fuel that has led to her extraordinary accomplishments.

Arlen spoke with our staff about facing difficult challenges in your life, reminding us that “You learn the most about living by living through life’s most difficult times.” Arlen gave her keynote address at NECA 2020 LIVE on Oct. 7, but registrants can watch it on demand until Nov. 15.

1. First off, can you tell us about your mantra, “Face it—Embrace it—Defy it—Conquer it?”

I came up with this mantra at one of the lowest points in my life when I was very sick, and it has continued to be something I live by in every aspect of my life.

2. When facing a difficult challenge, what kinds of internal and external resources can ECs draw upon to help motivate them?

I think the main one should always be gratitude. Despite what challenges and obstacles you are facing, there is always something to be grateful for. The more you focus on gratitude, your perspective continues to change.

3. What advice would you give for those facing a big challenge who are being told by others that they can’t do it and should give up?

That the toughest climbs have the prettiest views. Even if you are struggling and having a tough time, keep climbing. Don’t let anyone tell you how your story is going to end. If you want to climb that mountain, you climb that mountain!

4. What advice would you give about communicating with colleagues and loved ones about a challenge you may be facing?

I’ve learned there is strength in asking for help and being okay with not always being okay. For me, it’s taken a village of epic humans to help me get to where I am today, and none of that would have been possible if I had not asked for help.

5. What kind of mindset do you feel is most beneficial for people who are living and working with a disability, or are otherwise facing a significant challenge in their lives?

The mindset of “anything is possible.” What you think is a setback is actually a setup for something greater. Never forget that. Whatever challenge, obstacle or disability is in your way, nothing is impossible, you just might have to get a little creative.

Click here to watch Victoria’s TEDx Talk, or learn more about her story and her book “Locked In” on her website.

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